Introduction: How to Make Your Own Plasma Cutter....

Picture of How to Make Your Own Plasma Cutter....

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This Ebook is designed for Guys and Gals who like to create tools and machinery.

I hope my Ebook gives you hope that no matter how hard a project may seem, keep plugging away until you finish and you will succeed.

I spent 3 years putting this together and now finally all my hard work and research has paid off.

I studied diagrams from commercial venders, but to no luck. They tend to leave a lot out – on purpose - so it’s hard to reproduce their design. I’ve see different attempts at people making their own on You Tube and other sites, but what a death trap. Messy water resistors and wiring like a darn Christmas tree.

So I began reading books and articles on their workings and took my home schooled-knowledge of electronics to build my own plasma cutter. I was determined; failure was not an option.

I started by collecting parts from old microwaves, stoves, water heaters, air conditioners, car parts and more in the hopes of creating a low budget way to create a plasma cutter for myself. I mounted it all on a simple piece of scrap wood; well it’s scrap wood now. We, didn’t need that table anyway (shhhhhhh don’t tell the wife).

Then one day it all came together. I hit the power switch, placed the head to the metal, started the arc, felt the air kick and then a second hard kick (the current being drawn into play). Then BAM, it was slicing through quarter inch steel like a hot knife through butter.

How sweet it sounded! I felt the amazement of completing a project that I just couldn’t let go of.

So, take your time, enjoy and be safe.

The Plasaman

Step 1: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

When I started assembling my cutter, I began with taking a good look at my parts. As shown in Section 5 and Section 6, my parts are laid out so I can begin checking off from my parts list. Once this was accomplished, I would study each the parts pictorial to get familiar with each part/component and they would be placed.

The next step was to study my schematic and create a layout diagram. My board layout diagram is the most valuable piece in the building, repairing, and modifying process of my cutter.

As I began mounting my parts, I organized my board into four sections. Those sections are Power Control, High Current DC, Low Voltage DC and High Voltage Arc Start.

Power Control
3KVA step down transformer and contactor. The transformer is mounted off board because it is big and heavy, as you can see in Section 13. The contactor became my first part on the board. I wired it so when the head trigger is pressed, it turns the contactor on and allows my DC components to come on line. Then I began with my next system, High Current DC.

High Current DC
Bridge Rectifier
Large Capacitors
Reed Switch (which I used as a current sensor), what it does is allow the high voltage arc system to fire and as soon as high current starts to travel to the head and cutting starts it shuts down the high voltage arc system while cutting since it’s not needed at this point.
If you lose your fire it restarts the arc and gets you going again automatically.
My next system was placed on board.

Low Voltage DC
The low voltage DC components are mixed with power switch and 120 volt terminals.
Power Switch
120-volt terminal blocks
12 volt transformer
Low voltage bridge rectifier
Auto relays
Terminal strip, 4 position is all I needed but 5 position was what I had in my toy box.

High Voltage Arc Start
Microwave capacitor or run capacitor, a household dimmer switch rated for 15 amps. A Ford or Chevy ignition coil. I used the Chevy on this cutter. As you can see, I have terminals to all parts that get an external connection outside of their system so all I have to do is run a piece of wire in-between. Now look at the pictorial of board mounted parts in Section 11. It shows all the wires on the board, but here you can see all terminals and parts mounted, as I wanted. When wiring all my components, I used my Chevy board layout diagram to run my wires.

I checked and re checked all wires before mounting external parts. If you go to the final wiring section, you will also find pictures of my rigging of these parts. I could have done it many different ways, but this is what I chose at this time.

It took me about 3 hours of procrastination to finally assemble it all. You know how it is on a project, once you are ready with all your parts, your mind starts giving you a million ways of doing something. And, at last you just pick a way and go with it.

Once I got it all together, I connected my air tank hose and put the pressure setting at 28 for a safe point to start. I fired it up and BAM - that baby didn’t need any more adjusting. It was cutting!

You can imagine all the relief and pride I felt when the Plasanator started kicking ass. Yea, I said it Kicking Ass Baby. Oops Wife just told me I need to stop, hee hee and for all you creators – ah ah ah ahhhhhh.

I hope you enjoyed riding along with me in my journey.

Take care and be safe.

The Plasmaman

Step 2: Parts List

Picture of Parts List

Parts List

Step 3: Warning Warning

Picture of Warning Warning

Step 4: Schematic

Picture of Schematic

Chevy Pictorial Schematic

Step 5: Another View

Picture of Another View

Step 6: Another Schematic to Looksy At

Picture of Another Schematic to Looksy At

Step 7: Board Lay Out

Picture of Board Lay Out

Now this is to demenstrate how I set it up before putting it in a case configuration.
So dont think you would leave it like this for it would be to dangerous to do so.

Step 8: Transformer I Used

Picture of Transformer I Used

Its a control transformer I got off ebay for 50 bucks.
It's 220 to 120 3kva 25 amps and works great in power isolation.

Step 9: Transformer Connected to Board Terminals.

Picture of Transformer Connected to Board Terminals.

Step 10: Power to Contactor Terminals

Picture of Power to Contactor Terminals

These are the contactor terminal conections on the transformer side and then the contactor to large bridge rectifier connections.
Also you will see Bridge rec to Capitor connections and how they are connected.
This is your Main Current set up.

Step 11: Reed Current Sensor

Picture of Reed Current Sensor

Step 12: Low Voltage Side

Picture of Low Voltage Side

Step 13: Relay Connections by Color

Picture of Relay Connections by Color

Step 14: Chevy HV Transformer Connections

Picture of Chevy HV Transformer Connections

Step 15: Arc Tip Assembly to Head

Picture of Arc Tip Assembly to Head

Step 16: Head Air Coupling

Picture of Head Air Coupling

here is where you will connect your air line to your head if you dont have a fitting to do so then hook to board connections.

Step 17: Air Filter/ Element and Solinoid Hook Up View

Picture of Air Filter/ Element and Solinoid Hook Up View

Just showing temp hook up.

Step 18: Final Power Connections

Picture of Final Power Connections

Ok now you can put all your final connections together and keep going over your schematic to double or triple check everything.

Step 19: Extra Photos of Past Cutter Projects

Picture of Extra Photos of Past Cutter Projects

Here are some photos of past cutter projects for you to enjoy.
Now remember that you will need to put in a case for safty.
It can be would metal or plastic just enclose it.
My photos are in a testing stage and that is why you see them exposed.
The photos of the red cutter was a china one that burnt up on my neighbor and I ripped out the guts and replaced it with my design.
He just loves it.
The black box on side is the housing for 2 elements to draw more current.
You will also see here some other designs where I used a chevy control module as the hv arc start and my first plasma cutter on test stand using stove coils as current resistors.
Have fun and be safe ya'll. Joe

Step 20: Plasanator 3's First Cut

Picture of Plasanator 3's First Cut

Goto link and watch it's first cut while listening to the mission impossible song.
Thanks for stopping by and God Bless.


SARAA131 (author)2018-01-16

Thanks great work Good explanation There is only something I did not understand

Chevy HV Transformer Connections 14 Thank you
Plasanator (author)SARAA1312018-01-18

If it's about the hv lead coming off the bolt to capacitors and lead going to torch head ? it's set up this way to cause arc to electrode when trigger is pressed.

Plasanator (author)SARAA1312018-01-17

Hi Saraa, if it's the bolt on it and how it's mounted , you can just solder 10 guage wire directly to coil spot.

Don't need bolt set up at all. this was first time using this kind of coil and later found out the flat spot wasnt aluminum but was able to be soldered to.

SARAA131 (author)Plasanator2018-01-17

I do not understand How much is needed from the current I have coil Bipolar 8 kv Per pole Is it enough and thank you

Plasanator (author)SARAA1312018-01-18

it will be great should give you about 36 amps and you will want to run at about 25 amps for 1/4 inch cuts and if just thin sheet metal 16 to 18 amps will be great.

bell an (author)2015-12-15

thanks for your wonderful work。

but there is a QUESTION!

what‘s the heater element for ?in this design。

hope anyone could help me with that question, thanks!

sorry , i am not good at electric thing 。

Plasanator (author)bell an2017-12-30

It is a load resistor which pulls your current need to cut

KYHighlander (author)bell an2016-10-15

it adds resistance to the circuit.

blanquiin. (author)2017-10-18

Thank you for sharing your knowlegde. I would like to make my own plasanator but the step down transformer is very expensive to bought it. I have a transformer rescued from a old stereo. Its marked as +63v / -63v out, 120 volt in. I supose 120v in - 120v out . Do you think I can use it? I want to cut carbon steel 18 gage with a CNC machine I made. here is a video

Thank you

Abraham Montemayor

Monterrey, MX.

Plasanator (author)blanquiin.2017-12-30

For 18 gauge it will work great. great video

Plasanator (author)blanquiin.2017-10-19

hi And it all shuts Abraham I just use mains since I run it on a contactor.
Release trigger an all is shut down.
I never had one problem.
Your t former wont work.

IndianaJohn (author)2017-11-11

Would like to build this as a 220 volt unit. I understand that I wont need the step down(up) xformer, and will need two heater elements, also a double pole main power switch. Are there any other changes that will need to be made to the circuit? also, you don't specify if the reed switch is NO or NC. From your description of the circuit, I'm assuming NC. Correct? Thanks for an interesting project!

Plasanator (author)IndianaJohn2017-12-30

It is nc because you want it on until current flows then it opens to turn off high voltage arc.

Plasanator (author)IndianaJohn2017-11-13

That is correct and good luck have fun. Joe

MartinA173 (author)2017-05-12

Hello; Anyone needing some of these parts I have alot of those items

felixkakinyi (author)MartinA1732017-09-24 felix in kenya.and yes am interested to have some parts.

MartinA173 (author)2017-05-12

Alot of rectifiers, connectors,relays etc

Plasanator (author)2017-03-03

That is so cool to see all the places of the world Ive helped someone with one of there dreams. Aweome

saurabhthakre728 made it! (author)2017-03-01

Thank you for sharing all this information. I was able to build my own Plasma cutter. It was fun. Here's link to my video

Your very welcome great video.

Where are you from? I think it's great to see people from all over the world enjoy making something I made. Congratulations. Plasanator

This project is worth the effort.
I am from India.

idiotic123 (author)2017-02-21

We, didn’t need that table anyway (shhhhhhh don’t tell the wife). xD

scania774. (author)2016-10-18

Forgive me if this questions has been asked before, but I am in ths uk and we have 13amp at 230 volt, so do i need that 110v 3kva transformer?

Plasanator (author)scania774.2016-10-22

no you do not

kaoalex made it! (author)2016-08-14

Works great!

With a higher pressure and a HV capacitor (1,5 nF) in the output of flyback finally my the plasma cutter is working perfectly. I will not publish a picture of my creature because it's only a lot of wires on the floor. Soon as assemble it properly i will post some photos.
Thank you Plasanator!

Plasma cutter video!

Plasanator (author)kaoalex2016-08-15

Congratulations!!! Super great don't it feel good?

Would you mind if I put your video on my site?

kaoalex (author)Plasanator2016-08-15

Yes. I'm feeling like a boy with brand new toy.
Feel free to use any of my videos on your site.

kaoalex (author)2016-08-08

My plasma cutter (almost) works! Unfortunately the plasma do not start when i press the button. My arc starter is made of a TV FLYBACK with the positive HV wire is connected in external tip of the torch and the negative HV connected with the (-) high current in the interior of the torch.
I have to scratch the torch several times to iniciate the plasma and finally cut something.
Please any help or suggestion will be welcome!

Tks All!

Plasanator (author)kaoalex2016-08-11

make sure electrode has negative and work clamp is positive like dc welder on reverse

adjust air to 70 psi.

Let me know how it goes and what voltage are you using 120 or 220?

kaoalex (author)Plasanator2016-08-11

Hi Joe Eichholz,
Yes the work clamp is positive and the electrode is negative.
I will try with 70 psi of pressure i was using 40 psi or less. I have small air compressor!
I builded with 120V AC inlet and the voltage doubler. I measured +/- 320V DC.
I'm using 6Ω resistor and 10.000uf capacitors.
I need high power hv to start the plasma? The flyback system have only 24W.

Thanks for helping. I will post the results soon.

Saroj Shr (author)2016-06-18

Hi I wish to work on the modification of the work you have done. So I get the opportunity to work on it. I wish to get the documents or any material regarding the project. If yes I wish to get your e-mail. Thank you

RodolfoC19 (author)2016-06-05


RodolfoC19 (author)2016-06-05


vger13 (author)2016-05-19

very nice,what are the specs of the bridge rectifier the you used

SAHD_Lab (author)vger132016-06-03

According to the parts list, it's 700V, 50A or higher.

vger13 (author)SAHD_Lab2016-06-03

I didn't get parts list a few other pages first time i download. But have it trying to find plans for a good 240-240 isolation transformer

CsillaL (author)2016-05-24

you can just make a plasma cutter out of 200 9v batteries but i think yours is better

abadfart (author)2015-12-30

very cool I am thinking of building a external add on for the on board welder I will be installing in my truck and it could also be used on my shop set that way just set the welder for tig and hook up a line from the air compressor. plasma cutting sure beats using a Sawzall

epitman7 (author)abadfart2016-04-17

I believe in you

SrdjanM3 (author)2016-03-21

Will this work as I had imagined it? When the first capacitor charging, the triac is opened on the second capacitor and sends electricity to the torch. When it comes second peroid of ac line then the triac is closed and the capacitor starts charging, then triac opens on the other capacicator and sends electricity to the torch, and so constantly in the circle. When the capacitor discharges he has no contact with the AC source because the triac is closed. Then the capacitor acts like a battery and is isolated from the source, at least that's what I imagined in my head.

BarniG (author)2015-12-30

hello can u tell my what thickness can u cut whit it


JavierM16 (author)2015-12-08

Good morning. Could you please help me with a question. In this moment I can't get a big transformer as 3kva. My question is, it is possible to work without the transformer, because I have the two voltage in my home. 110v and 220v. Thanks

Plasanator (author)JavierM162015-12-16

240 is highest you want to go because the caps would be very expensive.

There is no book that I know of to help.

Plasanator (author)JavierM162015-12-09

Yes but use a 50 amp breaker to fuse it.

JavierM16 (author)Plasanator2015-12-09

Thank you. Excuse me. Is there any book that you can recommend me to investigate in a deeper way. For example. I have 120, 220, and 440v in my home, so i would like to build a machine to cut 1 inch. Obviously, I don't have a transformer, but I have many voltaje options. Could you please give any advice in order to make a very powerful machine. Greetings from Ecuador.

Plasanator (author)2015-12-16

The heater element is your load resister that draws the current needed to cut with.

yyaquitori gutierrotoz (author)2015-07-31

excuse my ignorance, that serves the water heater element

i want to know that too!

SuusiM-B (author)2015-08-23

Nice project. Have you ever measured the current drawn by the arc? Or measured the arc current over time? I would be rather interested in that infomation. Thanks :)

AN observation. Page 22 of your ebook High Current side wiring.

Disconnect the wire from the contactor to the C on the bridge rectifier at point C. Then connect it to the center of the two reservoir capacitors.

Remove the wire from the center of the capacitors to C.

This modification takes the circuit to a classic voltage doubler.

SuusiM-B (author)SuusiM-B2015-08-25

google the ESAB HANDY PLASMA 125 manual it has more of the ignition arc circuit diagram on it than others that I have seen. I love the brilliant simplicity of your solutions. From a safety point of view a bleeder resistor on the two capacitors to bleed the High Voltage capacitors. Say 5K 15 watt

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi I'm Joe and welcome. I love to make Homemade Tools & More. I will have many things to put on the instructables for you ... More »
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